SUNSEEKERS have been given their biggest boost of the year tonight with Ibiza, Majorca, Malta and the Caribbean all promoted to the green list.
In a major win for summer holidays, a bumper list of new destinations where Brits can travel without quarantine has opened up foreign travel from as early as next week.
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All of the 16 additions except Malta are on the green "watch list" which means they are teetering on the brink of reverting to amber.
But it means from next Wednesday at 4am, passengers will be able jet off from England to the Balearics without hunkering down at home on return.
It opens up holidays to immensely popular Balearic islands including Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formenta.
And stunning Caribbean hotspots like Grenada, Barbados and Antigua – but Jamaica and the Dominican Republic misses out.
The announcement has been welcomed by cash-starved airlines, travel companies and holidaymakers longing for a post-pandemic retreat after months in lockdown.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also revealed future plans to scrap quarantine for double-jabbed Brits returning from amber countries.
He said: "We’re moving forward with efforts to safely reopen international travel this summer, and thanks to the success of our vaccination programme, we're now able to consider removing the quarantine period for fully vaccinated UK arrivals from amber countries – showing a real sign of progress.
"It’s right that we continue with this cautious approach, to protect public health and the vaccine rollout as our top priority, while ensuring that our route out of the international travel restrictions is sustainable."
In key developments:
- Ministers also confirmed double-jabbed Brits will get more freedoms for travel in the weeks to come
- Six countries including Tunisia and Haiti will be put on the red list
- Ministers were thrashing out plans to slash mandatory PCR tests for Brits coming back from amber list from three to one, saving up to £500 for a family
- Downing Street hit back at Angela Merkel's call for EU states to impose isolation on arriving Brits
COUNTRIES ON THE GREEN LIST
The full list of countries on the green list
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Balearic Islands
- British Antartic Territory
- British Indian Ocean Territory
- British Virgin Islands
- Cayman Islands
- Falkland Islands
- Faroe Islands
- Israel and Jerusalem
- New Zealand
- Pitcairn Islands
- South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
- Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
- Turks and Caicos Islands
After Portugal was struck off the green list three weeks ago, some of the only viable holiday destinations have been Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands.
Low-case countries such as Australia and New Zealand are on the list – but have slammed their doors shut to Brits.
Ministers rubber-stamped changes at a crunch meeting this afternoon after The Sun revealed last night they were on the cusp of being added.
Infections in the Madeira, Malta and the Balearics have hit the floor, with new case rates at 35, eight and 43 per 100,000 respectively.
Boris Johnson this afternoon hailed the UK's top-speed vaccine drive as the shot in the arm to get holidays up and running again.
And he signalled his seal of approval to tearing up harsh quarantine rules for the 60 per cent of adults – and their children – who have had both jabs.
On a trip to Aldershot army barracks the PM said: "The most important thing is that we think double jabs do offer a good way forward.
"We think that they offer the hope of travel this summer."
But he warned that this summer will not see a grand reopening of holidays and that "it's going to be more difficult" to go abroad.
He revealed he himself hadn't made firm plans, saying: "I'm going to see how we get on. I'm certainly not ruling it in or ruling it out."
Brits have also been braced for delays at the border as officers grapple with reduced staffing numbers and Covid red-tape.
Yet Mr Shapps today said the situation was improving, telling MPs new passenger locator software at e-gates was speeding up the process.
Lockdown-hating Tory MPs have been demanding international travel resumes quickly.
Chaid of the Commons Transport Committee Huew Merriman said: "These changes are a move in the right direction. The additions to the green list offer more potential for quarantine-free holidays for UK travellers.
"But like an oasis just out of reach – travel to more than 150 countries on the amber list is still unnecessarily difficult."
Steve Baker said tonight: "International travel is not just about holidays, it is about reuniting families, saving jobs and livlihoods, restarting businesses from so many sectors.
"We must believe in the vaccines and get international travel going again."
The Sun understands the freedoms for double jabbed Brits won't kick in until August, but some MPs are pushing for the PM to open up from July 19.
Yesterday German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened to shoot down travel plans with a clarion call for European countries to impose isolation on Brits – in a threat to our holidays.
Expressing concern over the rise of Delta variant cases – which rose by 79 per cent in the UK this week – she told EU members to toughen measures.
Ms Merkel told German MPs: "In our country, if you come from Great Britain, you have to go into quarantine – and that’s not the case in every European country, and that’s what I would like to see."
Emmanuel Macron rowed in behind her hardline approach, urging EU nations to take "co-ordinated decisions in terms of opening of borders to third countries".
Downing Street this afternoon hit back that it was "down to individual EU member states" to decide their own rules but said the Government was talking to its neighbours.
The PM's official spokesperson said: "We will continue to have discussions with our European partners on the reopening of international travel."
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